The Art Garden Hotel is arranged around a pair (or was it 3?!) courtyards. It's modern, but has been tastefully constructed in traditional style. My room was in the furthest courtyard from reception, which was a wonderfully serene place to sit and read in the daytime. Indeed, the gardens are well kept, and the Goose Pagoda towers benignly over the courtyard wall.
This brings me nicely to location. Many feel they should be within the walls of the old city, and this is where most of the larger hotels are. Honestly, I think the sights of the old town are highly bereft of the character that overly romanticised tourist guides attribute them with. The main mosque is worth seeing, but the street markets surrounding it have no really interesting wares or foods on offer anymore that can't be found elsewhere. It might just be because I'm used to the bazaars of India, but there really is little "authentic" character left in Xi'an old city. With this in mind, the surrounds of the Art Garden Hotel make a welcome change. It's situated on the edge of a huge public square, at the centre of which lies the Goose Pagoda and it's surrounding temples. The square itself features a huge (and I do mean HUGE) musical/lightshow fountain and some modern mall-type buildings. This might not sound that interesting, but it's an absolute mecca for locals and families in the evenings, and offers a great insight into modern, middle class life in Xi'an. There's all sorts going on - inpromptu line dancing, men cracking massive whips, rollerblade slaloms etc. There's also a street that runs north off the square that has a host of more upmarket restaurants - but be warned, in many the staff speak no english at all, and in some they don't even have those picture menus that make speaking redundant. The hotel is also on the right side of the city, and near enough to main roads, to make the trip to the Terracotta Army extremely easy. We arranged this at the hotel and had an extremely comfortable door-to-door ride.
The rooms are extremely well appointed, and very comfortable indeed. It had everything I could ask for, including a desk area complete with PC. The bathroom was very nice, though in some ways a triumph of style over substance. This is largely in reference to their decision to put 'traditional' bamboo style bathtubs in, which are not bolted down and make for a slightly awkward thing to shower in. It's not a real issue, but it does mean the entire bathroom gets flooded unless you remember to tuck the curtain into the bathtub - you'll find out for yourself if you go ;)
I only ate breakfast in the restaurant, but it was most agreeable. It's mostly Chinese (as indeed I think are the hotels customers) with little western fare on offer. However I suggest you use this as an opportunity to and try the interesting combination of barrista coffee with fish-fragrant chicken or some such similar delicacies.
All in all, I would highly recommend this place. It's extremely comfortable, well decorated/maintained, and offers a much more interesting alternative to the rather bland massive international chains that dominate the old town.
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- Also Known As:
- Tang Dynasty Art Garden Hotel China/Shaanxi